NATALIE SMITH | Asst. News Editor
Model Stacy Nadeau said she wants everyone to be their best, healthy self.
On Thursday night, Nadeau spoke to a crowd in the Johnson Room about her experience being featured on a Times Square billboard in nothing but her underwear and bra, untouched and un-airbrushed, as a part of Dove’s Embracing Real Beauty campaign.
Peers Advocating Wellness for Students and Butler’s chapter of Delta Delta Delta sorority brought in Nadeau in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which was observed on campus last week.
Nadeau, who wears a size 10-12, delivered a speech outlining her struggles and triumphs during and after the campaign.
Students laughed as she animatedly told of the day she was followed down the street by some woman with a notebook she did not know. The woman approached her later and asked her to be a model for the campaign. Nadeau described how her friend called the agency pretending to be her and set up an audition a week later, in which she could only wear underwear.
Nadeau discussed the advantage women have when they get together.
“We women have the power to change things,” Nadeau said. “Don’t ever forget that.”
PAWS member Emma Edick said Nadeau was relatable.
“She made everyone in the audience feel really comfortable,” Edick said. “She did a great job of addressing problems that relate to college students and put them in our point of view.”
Elizabeth Davis, co-president of PAWS and risk management chair of Tri Delta, said Butler’s chapter was chosen to host Nadeau.
Davis said Nadeau’s mention of ‘girlfriend poker’ struck her the most. Nadeau described girlfriend poker as when girls one-up each other in things they dislike about their bodies.
“We needed a beautiful, confident woman to tell us to stop playing this game,” Davis said. “There’s such a culture of talking about the negative things. People aren’t saying, ‘I feel good today, let me tell you about it.’”
Freshman Meg Talley attended the event and said she was given a new perspective on her trip to the gym later that night.
“We went to the gym after and we said we’re not going to the gym to get spring break bodies, we’re going to the gym to be healthy,” Talley said.
Nadeau also stated that body image is not just a women’s issue.
Davis said when Nadeau asked, “What do we want in a guy?” almost the entire crowd whispered, “a six pack.”
“It’s not just a women’s issue,” Davis said. “Who are we to give them that standard? Just like we are given the (standards) blonde and size zero. It impacts men as well.”
Davis said the impact of the speech was strong.
“Walking back from the speech I heard a lot of girls asking, ‘When are we bringing her back?’” Davis said. “Girls are wanting to share Stacy’s message with others.”
Davis said other programming for the week was low key but effective. PAWS will host Fat Talk Free Week in October and hopes to bring in a speaker like Nadeau for it, Davis said.
Eating disorders and body image issues are in the top five issues reported to Butler’s Counseling and Consultation Services, said Shana Markle, associate director and practicum coordinator at CCS.
Markle said CCS sees more cases of body image issues than eating disorders. In a student’s first visit to CCS, an intake interview is performed that includes assessing the student’s body image.
Markle said many students wish they could change something about their appearance. A large percentage of women in the nation experience body image issues that are not severe enough to be considered a disorder, she said.
Markle said the most common eating disorders reported at CCS are anorexia nervosa, binge eating and “not specified.”
When a student is found to have one of these disorders, a multi-disciplinary team is put together for the case. The CCS, a dietician and medical staff from health services work together to monitor the student. The patient also receives weekly individual therapy, Markle said.
The different kinds of eating disorders bring different struggles. Anorexia nervosa is a disorder in which a person restricts food from themselves. Those with anorexia struggle with control, perfectionism and self-criticism, Markle said.
“Weight loss is valued and rewarded in our culture,” Markle said. “It’s a struggle being told you need to gain weight when society says the opposite.”
Binging and purging, when someone eats a lot in one sitting and then throws it up afterwards, brings a perpetual cycle of shame, Markle said.
“Our society is surrounded by food,” Markle said. “Those with eating disorders may feel anxious about events with food and wonder what they will do.”
The causes of eating disorders are different for each person. Markle said the disorder might start out simple and innocent by trying to lose a belly that sticks out. Some will start to diet and just keep going, she said.
“The disorders are related to an inability to cope with other things in life,” Markle said. “It’s a lot of things that are emotion related.”
Edick said college brings these pressures.
“You’re in a place where you don’t know many people and you feel that you have to present yourself at all times,” Edick said. “We’ve forgotten what normal is. College kids are (already) stressed out and this is one more thing added on.”
Talley said she thinks the causes of eating disorders are everywhere and are overlooked.
“We’re so bombarded with it all the time,” Talley said. “You don’t realize or recognize it.”
Markle said Butler’s campus could be an added pressure for students.
“Butler is a health-conscious campus,” Markle said. “It can be difficult for students to think that they should be working out more. As a college student, shame and guilt about that isn’t necessary.”
Getting help is important for many reasons, she said.
“Eating disorders are very serious and the health risks can be fatal,” Markle said. “They also intercede with social and academic aspects of life and make life so less fulfilling.”
Markle said shame makes it difficult to make the first phone call toward help.
“Despite feeling that shame, the CSS is a place to go where you won’t be judged,” Markle said. “There should be no shame in seeking help.”
The recovery process is not easy, Markle said.
“Recovery is a life-long process,” Markle said. “There are spirals and relapses. It’s not easy, but with support and help, it’s possible.”